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A patient first approach to pharma content

08/08/17 07:30
COUCH Medcomms



There are specific tasks pharma content excels at when it’s produced from the right perspective. Knowing what to create and where it meets the patient’s quest for information, however, remains one of the biggest challenges.

The patient perspective

To achieve support aims, pharma content should be produced from a patient perspective. There are so many sources of health information available to patients today that their reliance on doctors or hospitals and clinics is less than it used to be.

Now, the information available to patients outside those conventional areas of knowledge includes that which:

  • Enables self-diagnosis (although this remains somewhat risky, it is nevertheless an action patients take).
  • Gives access to fellow patients, feedback and shared experience.
  • Offers a route to alternative forms of support.
  • Gives information on symptoms, products and treatment options.
  • Empowers self-management and increases self-efficacy.
  • Connects patients with a wider range of health care providers.

Patients see online content as part of their support system, reducing their reliance on family and friends who may not understand what they are going through as deeply as a fellow sufferer.

This is especially true for those conditions of a specialised or a less well-known nature, which may not have established support systems in the traditional health community. 

Content can be an empowering element, offering knowledge, solutions, suggestions and treatment options that the patient can’t find elsewhere.

The right content can lead patients gently along their journey from first diagnosis to more specific awareness, from passively receiving treatment to actively monitoring and managing their own conditions. Identifying the small steps patients take on their journey is key to producing content that connects with them at each stage.

Encouraging behaviour change

The information provided by pharma could be seen as a ladder, leading patients rung by rung to the desired level of behaviour change. Types of influence could encourage patients to stop self-diagnosing and see a doctor, gradually include more exercise in their lifestyle, or investigate and request a particular product or treatment. Virtually any goal can be realised through skilled content creation, as long as the goal is clear from the start, and a well-defined pathway identified.

Skilfully created content not only meet patients at their current position in their journey, it can suggest logical next steps, make those steps easier to take, and give support along the way.

Taking part in clinical trials

Performing clinical trials is a vital part in the development and marketing mix, but finding patients with the right profile is a challenge many find problematic. Developing the right kind of content can make the process very much simpler.

By creating content that’s of sufficient quality and relevance to the search engines, patients currently seeking information on the disease and treatment the proposed trial aims to research, will have that content returned to them on the first page of the search results. So the content comes first.

Creating social links through forums, user groups, patient advocacy groups and other interested parties can also lead patients back to trial information, creating a more robust patient recruitment network. Maintaining links with patient groups also helps in the gathering of data, whether this is through wearables that feed back a continuous stream of data or simple apps that depend on individual patient input.

Online communities where patients seek support, particularly if their conditions are rare, specialised, or have a severe emotional impact, are places where patients return time after time as part of their support network. When content answers part of that patient need, recruitment, retention, and indeed adherence, within trial groups is less of a problem.

Creating a targeted content strategy gives companies a stronger voice and extends their sphere of influence.


Pharma Content Marketing


Topics: Content Marketing, Patient Centricity, Patient education

COUCH Medcomms

At the risk of sounding too pretentious, at COUCH we consider ourselves storytellers first and foremost. And we are passionate in championing this approach to medical communications.

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